Sunak: Home Secretary to provide update on asylum accommodation plans
Home Secretary Suella Braverman is expected to reveal within weeks whether progress has been made in finding alternatives to hotels to house asylum seekers.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also told MPs the Government is “working at pace” to develop legislation in response to Channel boat crossings, as he came under pressure from Tory MPs to act.
Ministers earlier this month played down the prospect of a Pontins holiday camp in Southport being used to house asylum seekers.
The Government has previously said it spends £6.8 million a day housing migrants in hotels, with extra demand created by thousands of people arriving in the UK after crossing the Channel.
It has also stepped up the monitoring of far-right groups involved in protests, including one which saw violent scenes outside a hotel housing asylum seekers in Knowsley, Merseyside.
Conservative former minister Andrew Selous, who represents South West Bedfordshire, opened PMQs by asking: “Does the Prime Minister understand how upset my constituents are to have bookings for weddings and other special family events cancelled when the Home Office took over a much-loved hotel?
“And will he redouble his efforts to put an end to this practice?”
Mr Sunak replied: “We are committed to reducing the number of asylum seekers living in hotels at vast costs to taxpayers and considerable disruption to communities.
“I’m grateful to the leadership of the Home Secretary and immigration minister (Robert Jenrick) in finding a sustainable solution, and the Home Secretary will make a formal update in the coming weeks on progress in standing up alternative sites for accommodation.”
Conservative MP Theo Clarke asked Mr Sunak if he would reconsider the “Government’s proposal to relocate approximately 500 single male asylum seekers” to Beaconside in her Stafford constituency.
She asked for an urgent meeting, saying she had received a “huge amount of objections” from constituents.
Mr Sunak said: “I know that this is an issue that is concerning her and her constituents, and it’s why we must absolutely stop the boats and stem the tide of illegal migrants to relieve this pressure on our local communities.”
Conservative former cabinet minister Esther McVey, who represents Tatton in Cheshire, told the Commons: “The Prime Minister has made fixing illegal immigration across the Channel one of his key top priorities, he’s also said that legislation will be required to stop it.
“I completely agree, so can he tell us when we can expect to see this legislation coming forward, as time is of the essence, and can he explain why sorting out this issue did not feature on the Home Office permanent secretary’s stated top three priorities for his department?”
Mr Sunak replied: “She’s right, illegal crossings put people’s lives at risk, it diverts resources away from those in genuine need and it’s unfair on those who migrate here legally, and that’s why one of our five pledges to the British people is to stop the boats.
“We are working at pace on the legislation, it’s important that it works, and in the meantime our deals with Albania and France are already yielding benefits, but what I can tell her is that we want a system whereby if someone arrives in our country illegally they will not be able to stay.”
Conservative MP Sir Bill Wiggin (North Herefordshire) said: “I wholeheartedly support my Prime Minister’s priority to stop the boats. So could he please bring in the small boats Bill next week?”
Mr Sunak said: “The Home Secretary and I are working intensely and as quickly as possible to bring forward that legislation, because what I want is what he wants – it’s to ensure that those people who come here illegally will simply not be allowed to stay.”